Have you been seeing all the fun book tasting posts on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook? I love how every teacher puts a different twist on this fun book hook option.
Maybe it’s my inner foodie, but I think this is such a great way to get students interested in new books. It doesn’t hurt that I’m writing this for you at four in the morning in Paris, France (jet lag!), where every cafe and patisserie I pass by beckons with caramel macarons, chocolate-almond croissants, and crepes oozing Nutella. I’ve got food on my mind.
To make it easy for you to try a book tasting out in your classroom, I’ve created a free resource for you and I’m going to walk you through the process of hosting a book tasting step-by-step. It’s much easier than you might think.
Three Simple Steps to a Great Book Tasting
Step #1: Determine the Goal
What do you want students to get out of the book tasting? You can use it to help them make their choices before a literature circles unit. Or you can use it to set them up for success with a choice reading unit. OR you can use it to launch your independent reading program or to help students refresh their excitement about your independent reading program mid-year.
Step #2: Set up your Classroom
Before your book tasting, get copies of the books you want your student to taste – either popular reads from your independent reading program or your literature circles selections. Photocopy your book tasting menu (grab it right here from Google Drive) at least onto the front and back of one page for each student. That will allow them to take notes on their six favorite books (you may want more copies than this for each student).
Then set up your classroom however you wish to make it look a bit like a cafe. Pull your seating together into cafe-style tables. Throw some table cloths over them or put out colorful paper as placemats. Add a little music, some snacks, perhaps a few vases with flowers from your yard. Put a Welcome to the Literary Cafe sign up on your door. Whatever works for you! Then spread the books out over the tables.
Step #3: Let the Tasting Begin
When your students arrive, give them their book tasting menus and ask everyone to find a book to preview. Suggest that they use their time with each book to check out the front and back cover and browse the first few pages, then make notes on their menus on any books they are at all interested in reading. Ask them to please take notes on some minimum number of books (whatever fits your purpose).
Then give them time to taste their first book. After five minutes or so remind them to be jotting down notes if they like their books, then call for them to get up and move on to the next book. And so on and so forth! You might want to pause at some point midway for a snack break or to invite students to chat with a partner about the book they’ve been most interested in so far. Or you can just continue all the way through to the end.
As you complete the activity, you can either gather students requests for their literature circles books or let students check out books for independent reading if you wish. Or just spend a few minutes letting partners or small groups share which books were their favorites.